1 item from 2005
Having a nonactor play himself in a movie is always a risk, but Dida Diafat, a French-born champion of Thai kickboxing, makes a more than credible hero in Chok-Dee, an entertaining true-life story by Xavier Durringer. The quiet intensity and determination Dida demonstrates in boxing carry over into his acting. Chok-Dee makes a great festival film, but chances for North American distribution appear slight. The film plays in the ongoing City of Lights/City of Angels festival.
Dida is a punk in prison when he meets Jean Bernard Giraudeau), a fellow con who teaches him Thai boxing. When Dida gets paroled, Jean urges him to go to Bangkok to train at a famous fight school. Refused admission because he is foreign, he lays siege to its entrance and eventually gets a job washing dishes and moping toilets. When he finally receives training, he turns out to be a quick study and moves up quickly in the caliber of his fights.
At Jean's behest, Dida looks up Kim (Florence Vanida Faivre), Jean's long-lost daughter, who initially wants nothing to do with either him or her father's letters to her. Eventually, curiosity gets the better of Kim and she becomes involved in Dida's life.
The movie never gets inside the world of kickboxing. It watches Dida train in montages but never eavesdrops on his instructor's words of wisdom or strategies of combat. In the fight sequences, the camera often sticks too close to the action, making it difficult to tell how the fight is going.
Melodrama develops over Jean's return to Thailand and crooks who stage illegal no-holds-barred matches. These may be true to Diafat's story, but they feel like Warner Bros. circa 1938. »
1 item from 2005
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